Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, Bobby Rainey and A Quick Note On The Cleveland Browns Backfield


I don’t know if you guys heard this, but Trent Richardson is an Indianapolis Colt. Mr. Rotoviz himself weighed in on what this meant for T-Rich, which is the really important part of the equation. He finally goes to an above average offense with an above average QB. What he leaves behind is an offensive quagmire without very many talented players, outside of Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon.

The three players to monitor/pick up in Cleveland are Willis McGhahee (who was just signed by the Browns’ this afternoon), Chris Ogbonnaya, and Bobby Rainey. Only two of these players have any relevance. While Bobby Rainey actually profiles as a better prospect than many would believe, he clearly isn’t integrated in this offense. His snap count for the year is 0, compared to Ogbonnaya’s 72.

Week 3: The Silent G

For Week 3 only, I think the pick up is clearly Silent G, as he has been dubbed. While Richardson was on the team, Ogbonnaya only played 19 less snaps and ran 31 pass routes, compared to Richardson’s 33. This is the guy that they trusted to step in and play on 3rd downs and if T-Rich got injured. Ogbonnaya isn’t any sort of a special player, with below average measureables, below average college production (guys like Daniel Thomas just blew him out of the water in the Big 12) and thus far, not great NFL production. Unlike some players Rotoviz guys are enamored with that haven’t been anything special in the pros, Ogbonnaya doesn’t have the collegiate production or eye-popping physical talent that would prompt belief in him as a breakout player.

For those interested, these are Ogbonnaya’s physical measurables:

College Height (in) Weight (lbs) Speed Score 40 Yard Bench Press Vert Leap (in) Broad Jump (in) Shuttle 3Cone Agility Score
Texas 73 220 100.87 4.57 19 35 111 4.29 6.85 11.14

Given that McGhahee signed about 72 hours before kickoff, won’t know pass protections and probably is just now receiving his playbook, it’s probably unreasonable for him to play more than 20 snaps or touch the ball more than 9 or 10 times. Therefore, it’s interesting to go back to 2011 when injuries and circumstance forced Ogbonnaya into a starting role for the Browns.

Rushing Receiving
Year G# Tm Opp Att Yds Y/A TD Rec Yds TD
Year G# Tm Opp Att Yds Y/A TD Rec Yds TD
2011 7 CLE SFO 11 37 3.36 0 5 24 0
2011 8 CLE HOU 13 28 2.15 0 1 13 0
2011 9 CLE STL 19 90 4.74 0 2 19 0
2011 10 CLE JAX 21 115 5.48 1 2 19 0
95 420 4.42 1 51 405 0
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/19/2013.

When given starters touches, he was actually better than I expected. Two of the games were duds against harder defenses, but he was more than functional against St. Louis and Jacksonville. He was involved in the passing game each time he drew a start and that’s a trend that I expect to continue. Before the season, we at Rotoviz really liked Dion Lewis‘ potential to fulfill a Darren Sproles-like role in this offense, but when Lewis fractured his leg, the job fell to the less talented Ogbonnaya. If you’re in a 14 or 16 team PPR league, there are worse starts in your flex than Ogbonnaya, as he has been usable when given starters looks, but his value is going to be pretty minimal after Willis has been on the team for longer than 3 days.

For what it’s worth, this is Ogbonnaya’s GLSP projection with 7 touches versus the Vikings.

Low 1.2 1.3 1.8
Median 6.1 6.1 7.1
High 12.3 13.3 14.3

Ole’ Man Willis

The signing of Willis McGahee indicates what we already know: no team is going to trust Ogbonnaya as a starting running back. McGahee is the classic veteran signing, a guy who will hang onto the ball, pass block, and not make any waves in the locker. Last year in Denver he averaged 73.1 yards per game on 4.4 yards per carry and caught 26 passes for 221 yards. Unfortunately for those who picked up the old man thinking they’d get the same sort of RB2 value for the rest of the season, I think you’ll be disappointed. He will be sharing a backfield with the likes of Axel Hoyer (his real name, seriously) and someone who will join him for early bird dinners during the week, Brandon Weeden. I’m pretty sure it’s easier to chunk up yards and scores with Peyton Mannig.

After the trade, there was some buzz that maybe T-Rich was just a bust, and maybe he is, but there are some signs his production was brought down by his surrondings. Trent Richardson leads all NFL running backs in Pro Football Focus’ elusive rating through 2 games, while averaging 3.5 yards per carry and 2.4 yards after contact. Last season, Willis McGahee received a 23.3 elusiveness rating from PFF, which put him in the company of Bilal Powell and Rashad Jennings in the bottom half of running backs who received at least 25% of their teams carries. However, McGahee did average the same number of yards after contact in 2012 as Richardson has for far in 2013.

How To Act

Regardless of how lackluster Richardson has looked/played at the NFL level, he is still probably a better running back than McGahee is at this point in his career. In a bottom feeding offense with truly bad quarterbacking play, McGahee is probably a week-to-week matchup flex play. That’s before accounting for the knee injury that lead to the Bronco’s cutting him, and him not even receiving a phone call while Brandon Jacobs is scoring fat guy touchdowns. Does he have anything left in the tank? If I had to bet, I’d say he probably has a little, but it might not matter much if the Cleveland offensive remains as incompetent as it has been the first two weeks of the season.

When the T-Rich news broke, I went out and acquired Ogbonnaya and McGahee in as many spots as possible, both in the hope that maybe McGahee does have some magic left, but more importantly, as trade bait. My official advice would be to roster at least McGahee and attempt to sell him off to the Shane Vereen, David Wilson, Stevan Ridley, Ahmad Bradshaw or MJD owner. RB’s are crazily scare right now, and any guy who is a threat to the touch the ball 15 times a week has value; McGahee is easily worth a #1 waiver priority and at least 25% of a FAAB budget, if you think you’ll be able to trade him for a valuable piece. Possible trade targets would include buying low on David Wilson (this sounds crazy, but he is being given away right now. A twitter follower told me that he got him for Jay Cutler), Josh Gordon (ironically, but I think the Hoyer news has driven his price down), Jared Cook (for owners who think Week One was an illusion) but most likely, adding him in as a filler to a larger deal. For a personal example, I’m adding him into a deal for Gronkowski in 1.5 TE premium league, because the Gronk owner drafted Wilson and Vereen.

So will McGahee or Ogbonnaya change your season? Probably not. At the high end of McGahee’s range of outcomes, you’ll have a guy getting 15-18 touches a week for 80 or so yards and a random chance of scoring a touchdown on an offense that won’t be in the redzone as much as we might have thought, and at the low end, you’ll have a committee back who breaks down as the season goes on. There will be some value if you decide to hold, but flipping him for a more powerful piece is the intelligent move.

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By Davis Mattek | @davismattek | Archive

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